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Delhi High Court directs Sports Ministry to consider inclusion of Paralympian Naresh Sharma in Tokyo Paralympics 2021

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The Delhi High Court has instructed the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to consider including the name of five-time Paralympian and Arjuna awardee Naresh Kumar Sharma in the list of shooters selected for Tokyo Paralympics 2021.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rekha Palli on Tuesday further instructed the Ministry to examine the selection process and take appropriate action in case of any foul play.

The Counsel for the petitioner contended that the Selection Committee of PCI has not applied the eligibility criteria mentioned in the National Sports Development Code of India 2011 correctly. He further stated that in order to be eligible for selection, a Para Shooter must compete in two World Shooting Para Sports (WSPS) approved international competitions to be eligible for Tokyo Paralympics 2021. He added that while selecting Deepak Saini, the Selection Committee of PCI considered Serbian Grand Prix (Novi Sad) for calculating the final average score, which is not recognised, as per WSPS.

The Counsel for PCI stated that the Selection Committee did its best by broadening the parameters for selection, given the whole world is suffering from COVID-19. The Counsel further added that Deepak Saini had a higher score and hence was selected. He further added the selection was fair, impartial and made in accordance with due process.

After going through the arguments made by both parties Justice Rekha Palli observed that the modification of selection process was due to the peculiar circumstances of COVID-19, the modifications made were in coordination with International Paralympic Committee and hence the court could not see mala fide intention of PCI in selection of Deepak Saini.

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The court on last date of hearing had granted time to PCI’s counsel to take instruction in the matter. The petition was filed through Advocate Amit Kumar Sharma and Advocate Satyam Singh. The petition stated that the petitioner qualified the eligibility criteria put forward by Sports Technical Committee of PCI in conformity eligibility criteria laid down by WSPS. The Selection Committee of PCI had arbitrarily and without application of mind had selected Deepak Saini not just in R7 event but also in R2, R3 and R6 events.

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